The main philosophy of the Reggio Emilia approach is that children should take charge of their own learning. This is achieved in several ways; first, there is an emphasis on a variety of materials within the classroom environment, and also by letting children choose a specific area of study, within the guidelines of the overall theme. This can be seen in the medieval-themed exercise in the video, where one student chose to study knights, another castles, and another studied dragons. There were also variations in materials and technology used, such as using tablets as well as construction paper to complete various projects they had been assigned.
This approach is Vygotsky inspired because Vygotsky believed that learning was most effective when there was an emphasis on the community and social aspect of learning. By providing kids with multiple activities, they are also being encouraged to share their experiences with other students, rather than simply receiving instruction as they might during a traditional lecture. The Reggio Emilia approach expands the core philosophy of social learning promoted by Vygotsky by providing more opportunities for students to be social through a range of activities.
Providing choice in learning, as evidenced by the Reggio Emilia model, would seem an effective method of teaching and learning because it boosts creativity. According to Shi et al. (2017), who performed an empirical study which evaluated the relationship between creativity and divergent learning, there was a clear correlation between the creativity of a child, and his or her ability to demonstrate high divergent learning, which is defined as coming up with a higher number of possible solutions when faced with a problem. This would suggest that more choice increases creativity, and more creativity results in students being able to identify more possible solutions when faced with a problem.
- Joyful Learning. (2013). The Reggio inspired approach to education. Accessible online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPmuYVn6AOg&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop
- Shi, B., Wang, L., Yang, J., Zhang, M., & Xu, L. (2017). Relationship between divergent thinking and intelligence: an empirical study of the Threshold Hypothesis with Chinese children. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 254.